tv Hearing on U.S.- Mexico Security Cooperation CSPAN February 13, 2020 11:52pm-1:10am EST
strong desire even though he didn't want to do this work he got himself the prize and in new york city and washington, d.c. based the gossiping i wonder how much money they are getting out of those royalty checks that the they changed the equation and the readers like this, too when i was at the presidential library i wrote the letters thy were receiving and librarians were sending him letters, school teachers were sending letters saying that you really write this book and they were responding you wouldn't have accepted if you didn't write the book. that is i isn't the right thingo do. >> state department and usaid officials testified before the subcommittee on what their agencies are doing to provide security assistance to mexico. members questioned officials on
how the u.s. is working with the mexican government to combat drug and arms trafficking by cartels. the current humanitarian crisis and american citizens being killed in mexico. >> we are going to get started. the ranking member is on his way. the reason for the early evening as we have votes and people go back to the district today so i wanted to make sure that i got this started. other members will be walking in as the hearing is progressing. this hearing will call them to order amid u.s. security assistance to mexico. we will focus on evaluating the extent to which u.s. assistance
under the initiative has been detected in strengthening mexico's justice sector institution combating crime. all members may have five days to submit statements, questions, strenuous materials for the record subject to the limitation of the rules i will now make an opening statement and then turn it over to the ranking member of his opening statement. it's early, it's miserable outside and i certainly want to thank the witnesses for being here good morning, everyone and thank you for the witnesses being here today. in reading the news over the last few weeks, the shocking
headlines from mexico have it impossible to escape. last week, i saw kids as young as 6-years-old trying to defend their families in the rural part of the state. it was cartels have sough is cao assert control of the area, the murder rate has doubled in the community has nearly shut down a. kids should be in school learning that the science and not how to ambush armored vehicles. as a former teacher, i believe that nothing is more sacred than the investment w investments wer children's future. it broke my heart to think that these kids are being deprived of the right to learn and grow free from violence and fear, and they
know that it is just a microcosm of the broad trends that we are seeing across mexico. mexico's rate has reached its highest level in decades. targeted attacks against journalists, human rights defenders and local public officials have continued to rates almost higher than anywhere in the world. a recent report on the international federation for journalists found mexico is the deadliest country in the world for terrorists. up to 49 journalists killings documented in 2019, ten were in mexico. most journalist murders like most homicides in mexico are never solved. i have long advocated for robust u.s. assistance to help mexico strengthen its democratic
institution caused by corruption, defending human rights and improve security. i believe mexico and the united states have a shared responsibility to reduce violent crimes and improve quality of life for those living on both sides of the border. the united states must enact strict gun laws dedicated more resources to combat money laundering by the cartels and increase investment in programs to reduce domestic demand for illegal drugs. while we also expect a commitment on the mexican side to reduce in this violence. i appreciate the efforts the security forces are making but they are being undone by these cartels. if the mexican civil society organization released a report this week showing that 953
police officers have been murdered in mexico in just the past two years. i admire those courageous individuals putting their lives on the line, but it is clear substantial political commitment is needed to address the underlying problem of the impunity and corruption that are perpetuating the violence in mexico. now is the time for the government of critically at the programs to determine what is working and what is not fine looking forward to working on the strategy and how congress can measure tangible progress on the initiatives. with mexico rather than pressuring them to use
[inaudible] i know that many of my colleagues share frustration that we haven't made more progress over the initiative and i hope that this hearing will help us develop a sense of what is next, what's next step we should take. i look forward to working with my colleagues and the executive branch of the bipartisan basis to explore solutions to the difficult challenges. thank you and i now turn over to the ranking member for his opening statements. >> thank you, mr. chairman for holding a second hearing to to follow-up ofollow up on this vet and timely issue regarding the security situation in mexico. the situation is among the most strategically important relationships in the united states. linked by geography, geographic proximity as well as economic historical and cultural ties. in the events occurring in mexico the impact the country.
recent years brought widespread violence, criminality and the deteriorating security that has been largely driven by the drug cartels and ignore the fact the paper today that the article about the children. tsukuba petition is a critical component of the relationship with mexico and it's important that we review the security conditions and assistance programs to identify what has been most effective and ineffective in assisting the country to address the security challenge. i'm concerned recent events in mexico have resulted in the deaths of nine u.s. citizens including three children at the hands of the drug cartels. ...
>> despite the efforts previous administration to combat cartel with a 30 percent increase of mexico's homicide rate further the cartels have expanded the drug trade with hera when it is synthetic opioids. and heroine read the book dreamland. we must also take illegal weapons from the united states and mexico especially assault weapons and high-powered leopard weapons that contribute to systemic corruption and lack of rule of
law since 2007 the ministration provided $3 million in security aid to mexico from 2014 through 22 us security assistant have focused on human rights in mexico the trumpet ministration has added focus of financing of the cartels and combating opioids which i think is a positive step united states and mexico must continue to work together to ensure that regional security priorities are addressed it's also critical the mexican government communicates to us and present a comprehensive security strategy. the first the united states should explore ways to modernize the security assistance and continue intelligence sharing capacity
and also review the coordination on the border to support mexico's efforts to carry out the screenings that has come a long way but we must continue to build the relationship on cooperation it is a joint responsibility for both countries to do so thank you mr. chairman and career foreign service officers for being here today i look forward to hearing your testimony. >> thank you very much ranking member. >> i will now introduce mr. hugo rodrigues was a career foreign service officer who most recently served as deputy chief and previously served at the us embassy and
later as missions acting minister for affairs. we welcome you to the hearing. that really hear from the assistant secretary of state and bureau of international narcotics. in his current role oversees the program to oversee the work with the 2000 of it in - - of 2011 and also serving in argentina. thank you for joining us today and finally will hear from barbara feinstein usa member of the overseas usaid program to mexico and central america and caribbean. previously deputy assistant
administrator for administrative and public affairs serving as deputy chief of staff and chief of staff acting administrator. thank you for joining us today please limit your testimony to five minutes and without objection your prepared statements will be made as part of the record we recognize you first for your testimony. >> mr. chairman, ranking member members of the subcommittee thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss security cooperation with mexico thanks to the u.s. congress in this committee in particular for its consistent bipartisan strong support of us-mexico relationship in general and the merit of relationship in
particular while the bilateral agenda in mexico covers a wide range of issues with commercial relationships and educational exchanges and bigger partnership security cooperation is only been a central element to be central partners in confronting the transnational criminal organizations operating on both sides of us-mexico border these have engaged in unprecedented levels of violence in the fundamental challenge to mexico and its people also a major threat to the united states we must take a comprehensive approach including the targeting of their business model from production and trafficking of illicit drugs to finances in revenue this is critical to safety of all citizens the necessity of cooperation has made it clear with our
horrific murders of nine citizens in the failed operation october 2019 these are in addition to the live security forces continue to be lost the trumpet ministration is committed to work with mexico to combat these organizations us customs and border protection all separately visited mexico for the joint efforts and to increase collaboration more effectively for this threat. the criminal organizations that traffic methamphetamine, fentanyl, colon cocaine to the united states to address these and the
latest threats united states and mexico support mexico is the efforts to improve security reduce drug production and enhance criminal prosecution and to build public confidence in the justice sector, reduce the migration flow to promote those that i set security cooperation has been expanding in this launched in 2008 based on the recognition and commitment to country shares responsibility for transnational criminal networks from the crime and corruption generated initiative is founded on mutual respect reflecting the tremendous benefits derived from collaboration. us assistance provided crucial support to the government in its efforts to build to capacity while enhancing cooperation between us and mexican governments with
assistance and training also with greater cooperation between law enforcement agencies prosecutors and judges as they expand the shared capacity making the reduction of violence that keith goal of security policy in his pledge to fight corruption advance efforts with the security challenges to develop a new bilateral structure mexico city high level working group to jointly develop groups to tackle issues of the highest importance focus on drug policy, migration illicit finance cybersecurity arm services emergency response and arms trafficking. through these groups identify priorities and specific
actions to have progress in each area. for example to increase the joint efforts to increase drug introduction - - introductions and we also working with firearms weapons and the ammunitions for crossing into the border those by transnational criminal organizations requires our continual support in our cooperation must continue in this initiative provides a framework for the partnership to benefit americans and mexicans i will be happy to answer any questions that you have. >> we will now hear your testimony. >> distinguish members of the subcommittee thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss our
efforts with mexico forgot one of the states. oh is to keep americans safe by countering crime and illegal drugs. we provided assistance for the last 12 years under the initiative to build mexican interdiction law enforcement and prosecutorial capacity the system has two principal purposes first is to stop illicit drugs before they reach the united states and to improve capacity to demand each component transnational criminal organizations with trafficking and to elicit proceeds and hold accountable for their crimes. despite the news drug overdoses are falling for the first time in 20 years more than 67000 americans died in 2018 many of which have come
from mexico it is the source of the most methamphetamine consumed and for synthetic opioids like fentanyl meanwhile they face their own epidemic with the homicide rate a record high of 29 per 1000 public trust is low and organized crime erodes through corruption the mexican government continues to consolidate with major growing pains in the face of these challenges the initiative has petitioned the us cooperation to tackle corruption and security to build trust between us and mexican law enforcement now to learn those who adapted the programs to meet the changing environment
tackle those through the us and ministration to prioritize sustainability there is sustained political will we have seen investments bear frui fruit. one example more than those since 2011 with 23 tons of narcotics including fentanyl 56000 guns and millions of double dollars of smuggled cash we have since expanded the canine program and the next step is working closely with mexico with a strategic plan for the deployment of canines to increase seizures and save more lives we have learned no amount of equipment or training can reduce impunity with sustainable improvements this requires continued political will and resources to tackle today's immediate problems while
laying the foundation for the enduring culture of accountability we are under no illusion we have to reduce the number of drugs in the united states or the level of violence we have a long road ahead when fully embraced to yield improvements we seek opportunities to make the greatest impact while mitigating risk and ensure sustainability on the campaign trail in the first year in office he has repeatedly vowed to take a minute transnational criminal organization by combating illicit finance and arms trafficking. with mexico's commitment you have an opportunity to tackle our threat to those only make the immeasurable difference to be employed in the strategic
manner and the recent actions it with this momentum. and the time that calls for urgency the current statistics make it hard to argue we are making headway nevertheless those are exactly that we must continue we engage at every level with partners in the mexican government and we encourage mexico to take a strategic approach of our shared challenges we will continue to do so that requires nothing less. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you.
>> ranking member rooney and members of the subcommittee thank you for the aid in mexico. since 2008 usaid has partnered with the department of state and other agencies to address the crime and justice and corruption challenges to threaten our mutual security and prosperity. under the marinette initiative usaid works to strengthen institutions and address impunity protect human rights reduce crime and violence and transparency undoubtedly as clearly articulated the challenges before us are daunting that is why usaid is labor law and is laser focused to have incredible partners willing to work with us with the necessary political will to enact systemic change as outlined in my written testimony we are seeing
results in the area that we work to continue to press federal state and local governments. with the rule of law to support mexican government with a seismic shift with the presumption of guilt to a presumption of innocence. working at the state level where the vast majority of crimes are tried we have demand driven support with investigators and attorneys to implement protocols and procedures and secure prosecutions. our work has helped to increase prosecutions of felony crimes by 400 to over 700 percent. and to have specialized homicide units increasing the indictments and homicides.
with a sufficient political will and resources and capacity are marshaled to the shared outcomes. the systems we are putting in place at state level are the foundations on which the entire justice system. usaid is focus on those 13 specific states with a crime violence prevention but the anticorruption system to shifted our resources with the anticorruption prosecutors and civil society and we see tangible results as well usaid supports the special prosecutor for anticorruption and a 67 percent increase in
our support led the charges attend criminal organizations with regards to crime and violence prevention it with the 27 priority cities reduce violence. and then to inform crime and violence. the recidivism rate for those that usaid works with is 3 percent compared to the national rate of 60 percent. it with those levels of violence and with the partner of the government of mexico to prevent and investigate and
prosecute human rights abuses to strengthen civil society to hold the government accountable. into except those journalists and human right defenders. also helping to reduce the backlog and to bring closure to criminal cases. is up to build forensic evidence. and then we are encouraged with the announcement of the extraordinary method of identification. and cooperation. in conclusion against an extraordinarily challenging landscape we see the progress to be scaled back and replicated. and then to do so. ranking member and chairman of members of the subcommittee thank you for the opportunity to testify for garlic or to
your questions. >> as i mentioned in my opening remarks i was taken aback to read that children are forming their own groups to defend the community. can you provide examples of us programs that have been affected to the weekend the cartels at the local level and the rural communities? so in terms of rural communities to the police to do their jobs. with the federal and state level we have generally avoided local police for various reasons.
that is essential to take them from no or very little support. and then to ensure at least at the beginning and with the support and know-how. obviously there is a lot more to do and that transition along with pieces of the army will be key that they take on that trading and applying as far as we understand the purpose of the national guard is to get out into the rural areas and help secure those communities that desperately seek that peace and stability. >>. >> as i mentioned in my
testimony to targeting municipalities that have the highest level of violence including the government of mexico has targeted. we look at where we have partners that are willing to invest their own resources and where we see the political will and with the crime and violence prevention so in certain municipalities it is similar to community courts where we look at misdemeanors so that can be escalated and lead to more sophisticated levels of crimes and if we can address that to build costs - - to have this strength municipal government and justice system to pave a foundation for a stronger rule of law at the local level. in addition to rural areas we work with those who are already in conflict with the
law who have been imprisoned and/or on parole to the techniques through cognitive cognitive to work with youth before they ask the prisons with lower levels of recidivism. >> i will let my colleague spea speak. >> last year 21 human rights offenders were killed in 2012 the mexican government with those human rights defenders but since august those beneficiaries have been
murdered. what needs to be done from the killing of journalists and human rights offenders to be investigated and prosecuted. >> mr. chairman you point to one of the crisis with the protection of journalists that we have released frequently and my believe is that that they share that concern and those that to help to strengthen those efforts that both harass and the government this is a priority to take steps to journalism.
>> i will defer to barbara on programs that specifically in general the efforts with the federal level attorney general's but the investigative branches of law enforcement to increase their ability and to produce prosecution. that does not prevent the aggression against journalists but when it does happen it ensures that the mexican government can't get justice. >> from usaid perspective and to provide technical assistance to the national protection mechanism from the panic buttons to protection teams for journalists through
that mechanism and in addition on another level we are providing support for freedom of expression to strengthen protocols and be able to go after the perpetrators who are going after journalist then provide a direct report in terms of digital security and perfect one - - perfect themselves online and to be more secure. >> thank you. i would like to start with two basic questions can you give more specific how the programs have evolved under the merida initiative?
and what judicial reforms do we need to execute to increase convictions and prevent legal proceedings of the cartel members? >> thank you parker in terms of the evolution come at the beginning of the initiativ initiative, mexico has embarked on a seismic shift to transform the guilt from presumption of innocence. while all of that has been on paper and has worked very hard with the mexican government to try to ensure implementing legislation has been in place to carry out that reform because now the laws on the books because of that cultural change required to get all individual actors including those that were part of the old system to go from where you are prosecutor to assist him you have to make the tough decisions about what cases you would prioritize and build
those cases to build the strongest evidence that you can. the issue is structural and systemic not the judicial reforms obviously there could be tweaks that working with the actors to work together. in terms of the evolution of our approach and the rule of law where we say the work is focused on the state level to implement legislation it was classroom training for all individuals judges and defense attorneys and prosecutors and investigators that classroom training was not enough we needed to have targeted assistance to bring the actors together.
that might be cognitive behavioral therapy, family-based counseling on a variety bringing the different parts together and that is what we are doing and where we are seeing the result and on the model we are pleased to see the government of mexico has taken pacific justice model before and we pilot it and scale thacan scaleup to different pare country. in the case of that work, those that are in prison and to be released in the next five years we will work with them to give the kind of training, life skills and once they come out, the vocational education to be integrated into society and we are seeing the recidivism rates over 3% compared to the 60% national rate.
>> one last thing that is the contribution of the united states versus mexico under the agreement? >> i wouldn't be able to tow you across every element i don't know if my colleague house that. on a regular basis and annual basis it's around 40 million about 37 to 40 million per year and i know local security contributions on the average of about 400 million. we want to see a successful mechanism. in favor of u.s. mca not only is a good neighbor but obviously a fellow partner in trade.
i believe the current statistics make it hard to say we are making headway so my question qn what they should we shift our approach or strategy under the merimirida initiative? >> i think that we have learned from the 12 years of experience that we have, we also have a new mexican administrationewmexicans focusing on different areas and we will go around as far as we can to support those efforts of the current mexican administration. i think the focus on going after the illicit finance crowd will be a major shift that will give us the kind of results that we
seek to focus on arms trafficking and helping the government at least from our end helping the government of mexico position and equipment we've donated previously so they can protect their border and scan for guns and money coming south. so, shifting those kind of resources into that kind of focus can help change the way that we focus the merida resources we have. >> one of the concerns i have is one of the shifts we have seen is the creation of this national guard where i believe 25,000 of them now are being used to prevent central american migration. that concerns me. i thought they were suppose wero be out there interdicting drugs and doing all these other things against the narco traffickers not against central migrants. i also want to ask about the migrant protection program or we normally call for remain in mexico. 59,000 have been returned to
mexico and that is as of december 31, 2019. there are at least public reports that 815 of these have become victims of violent crimes such as rape, kidnapping and torture after being returned, so it doesn't seem to me that it's very safe to be returned. why are we continuing this? >> you raise an excellent point. the levels of violence in mexico are of great concern as is the violence the entire route of the journey and our effort has been to share responsibility and look for part is to help us in addressing the migration and
hope to build capacity particularly in central america at this point were offered asylum and support closer to the home and the point of departure to undertake both the dangerous journey int and the dangerous conditions in mexico. they have owned the concerns we have particularly the northern tier of mexico. they've committed less to provide the same protections to the migrants as they did to the citizens that are coming into the area as well.
for the good intention. but we are not seeing it and q. profit up under no illusion. i like to look at things what is the solution and how do we change this. there was a 3% recidivism. how long have you tracked that is that within the five or ten year period and do they stay reformed and not go back into
the illicit activities? >> my understanding is that it is a multi-year effort that we are not just tracking people when they come out because that wouldn't be a good indication of when the recidivism is taking place. is it a 3% recidivism after five years? if you could get that that would help us because that gives us a working that we can bolster. i forget what area it is but you are saying the 40% increase in sentencing what about the sentencing on the reform side of that or do they get pardoned or early release.
and those that i can read to you or not where we have increased the number of indictments so that is from homicide and my other statistic is in terms of f prosecution for felony crimes so in terms of prosecutions that is obviously a variety of ways that could be resolved and it could result in incarceration or alternative dispute resolution, plea bargaining surveys or piety of different methods. the challenge in this sector is that under this new system in any criminal system whether ours or any around the world, criminal justice systems have the capacity to process 10% of the crimes that are coming and so you have to make decisions about how you are going to prioritized. you could have a prosecutor that goes after the crimes and then reduces the rate that they are
trying to look at the more serious crimes so that in this case taking all these different elements bringing them together and asking what is it that would make a difference to the community and people looking at serious crimes like homicides, like home invasions, armed robbery etc. and then for us it isn't a sign it is that is a cl change issue also in ask a coworker people want to see folks behind bars and not necessarily looking at plea bargaining and other issues. >> you don't work with the local law enforcement for obvious reasons. i want you to state what those obvious reasons are. >> i think it is recognized by the mexican government itself. >> and we know that and i point that out on the record that gets
the results aren't fair. i'd like to switch over to another question that gao report showed 70% of those by the mexican authorities come from america. what do we do, do we track that you find out who they came from in america and if so, what do we do, do we have extradition laws that allow the person to get to mexico is involved in a crime? >> in the cases where we have tracking information with serial numbers there is cooperation to share that with u.s. law enforcement so they can track that. we have u.s. law enforcement officials. >> the person that broke the law selling the gun, have we sent him to the mexican prison for the judicial system?
>> would that be a strong deterrent if we did? >> i would assume it would. >> i will yield back. >> congressman phillips. >> thank you, and thank you to the witnesses. we had a similar hearing about a month ago relative to aid to mexicinmexico and not surprisink center stage so i would like to begin with a question to you about how corruption very specifically impacts your work starting with you, mr. glenn, and if you can be specific about corruption. >> our focus is on law enforcement and so the efforts in the past and going forward as well will be on how do we eliminate or help the mexican government eliminate corruption in the public security forces.
>> i want to hear specifically about that and the security forces. >> we have at least the alleged conduct of the head of the police. he was at the time one of our principled interlocutors. so obviously that shakes the trust that we have got to work with those in place, we do our best on the human rights society and thsideand the internal vette sure that the best of our knowledge, our partners are with us and not against us. >> and if we are uncovering information do they act on it?
>> to the extent that i know, yes and. >> i know mexico created a federal prosecutor for the crimes and they've moved to remove immunity from elected officials that engage in production and establish the anticorruption system that ran on a platform of targeting and persecuting corrupt officials. we learned yesterday that the former head was arrested in spain based on a request from the government of mexico for alleged corruption. they are pursuing corruption in both current and former administrations. >> anticorruption is one of the areas that we have focused on in mexico because of the toll that
it takes on the mexican state at every level where they encountered by individuals on a day-to-day basis as well as businesses for example it is estimated to cost mexico between five to 9% of its gdp, so it's obviously an enormous problem for the private sector and individuals on a day-to-day basis. complementing with my colleagues have said, one of the areas they engage in is looking at the procurement process in mexico since a lot of the scandals and mexico have related to government procurement so what we have done is provide the tools so that a spotlight can be shined on where corruption is going and have invested in block chain analysis of the weaknesses in the procurement process and we are working with specific states to look at the folder properties in the procurement system so that they can make
those changes. >> another line of questioning here, the foreign minister mentioned that they were in talks to purchase the russian-made helicopters and if that were to proceed with risk sanctions under section 231 of the act? >> thank you, congressman. we have looked into that insult that read out of the meeting between esther lavrov and the foreign secretary. it is concerning to us based on our initial investigations it appears that it would trigger sanctions and we don't have further specifics this morning but to give a full readout. >> i believe we have at the embassy level but i need to check on us to confirm.
at the washington level we have raised this area of concern with our counterparts in mexico city to raise the government. >> we appreciate that. i will yield back one of my time. >> thank you, congressman. >> i want to ask a quick question you mentioned different ways you are trying to protect journalists. i remember a panic button. who answers the panic button on the other side i hope not the corrupt law enforcement that we just heard about. >> this is the national protection mechanism that we as usaid helped the government establish. >> who answers it on the other side? >> officials associated with the mechanism which are vetted and
help to redirect. >> have you mentioned the response time of those folks? >> we recognize this isn't a foolproof mechanism so if you are a journalist and someone is with you trying to kill you, no call from a panic button is going to result in law enforcement coming and bailing you out immediately. >> i was in law enforcement for 25 years ago there were a lot of people that didn't like me just like there's a lot of people that don't like me now but i did have a gun. are we training these folks in the use of firearms flex >> not to the best of my knowledge. >> if it takes 15 minutes to show up and you have 20 seconds to react would that be a more effective way to help folks? >> i would refer you to the technical experts.
you have more expertise in this area than i do. the panic button is one of a variety of mechanisms. we also provide support for better or residential security upgrades. with some exceptions that has been successful protecting journalists and keeping them alive. our hope is there would be more resources invested in the mechanisms which can be expanded to provide greater protection which we would prefer to not have to do but a reality today. >> someone handed you a note. >> it was an answer to a question on the recidivism rates that we tracked for 12 to 18 months afterwards. >> mr. rodriguez, i wanted to know about the flow of drugs across the border and with the
mexican government is doing. my understanding is they have enhanced the military or law enforcement presence along the border. is that correct? >> if i could, i would like to pass this on because the programs that we have fall under this area of expertise. the responsibility a place with multiple agencies within the government of mexico and. the military is one of those and its increasinglis increasingly t role. >> is their enhanced security, law enforcement on the border area? >> both on the mexican southern border as well as mexico and northern third. >> what is happening as a result of the? >> increased amounts of greater success with the equipment of
the donated whether it's the canines they mentioned earlier we've also been trained to get into focus and cooperate more on ports so the importation of the precursor chemicals. >> how much money have we given in the last ten years to assist and why is it that we are asking them to help reports? do they also hope with physical barriers on the southern border into their northern border? >> let me touch first on the amount of money that we have spent over the last ten to 12 years on border security and that can be ports. we've spent about $200 million on equipment and training.
>> are they paying for the wall is the question. >> not that i know of, but in terms of personal know dedicated to screening and protecting the border, yes. i don't know a specific number. >> thank you, congressman. thank you, chairman. under the protection protocol asylum seekers are focused to live in dangerous conditions in mexico due to the administration's policies. as they await their claims recently along with other members of congress i visited the border and i saw firsthand the conditions and fear and came away believing that it's an inhumane situation we are placing these folks in. the border towns have become incredibly dangerous and migrants victims of violent crime including robbery and rape
at the border so my question to you know how many individuals are in mexico under the trump administration awaiting adjudication? >> i don't know that i hav havee number right in front of me that if you would permit fbi would be happy to get the number back to you. do you believe these people along th the border are safe in that environment? >> we and the government of mexico are working to increase their safety so the population
refugees and migration work with international organizations to provide support to migrants under the program and to that extent, we are working correctly to try to provide support and safety to those individuals as well as encouraging and working with the government of mexico to provide support and safety to those individuals as well. >> to the state department acknowledges that some of those cities are cities the state department advised america not to travel to become because of the danger of those cities. what steps has the state departmenstatedepartment taken t these people as they pursue their asylum claim? >> if i were to talk about usaid, i would add that my understanding is the period of
time that these individuals are waiting for their asylum hearings and processing is meant to be expedited as possible. >> based on what we heard from folks the other day it is quite the opposite which is they are bringing them in for court dates and then setting up a recent date 34 months later basically hoping people will either stay in mexico or just go away so the folks that do remain are being subject to these dangerous conditions. but i've got about a minute and 40 seconds left unless they want to say something about usaid. we are not engaging in that area.
>> it sounds like this is more in the wheelhouse than the sum of the work you've been describing for the last hour. in terms of how they handle migration that is primarily within the state department bureau and so thbureau and so te asylum strengthening isn't something they engage in. you talked about the reform of the legal system or the justice system. do they have a public defender system? >> through our work we work with other defense attorneydefense ae level primarily. >> how extensive is the system now is it nationwide? >> it was part of the judicial reform changed the justice system in terms of presumption of innocence and guilt and that has been implemented at every single state. that being said there are some that are more mature then are
progressing more effectively than others. let me ask one more question which is there are a lot of fully automatic and semi automatic weapons traffic from the united states. does the government fund or help mexico retrieve those? not just the serial numbers but to go get them? >> under the merida initiative, we have assisted them in the form of primarily recovering the weapons so through the forensi forensics, ats is present in the embassy and it does work with the attorney general's office with the state level attorney general's office is to retrieve weapons that have been used in the cutting of crimes to be able to track them back and find how
they came across the border. >> thank you mr. chairman. i have a few questions. i'm certainly concerned about the trade routes to my district. being that mexico last year had if you consider the confirmed murders and disappearances that number exceeds every soldier we lost in vietnam and this is just in one year. violence to this extreme and mexico being our number one trading partner, are we having a conversation that this could potentially be a national security threat if we have portions of the country that have failed and in my opinion they have in certain states are we having those conversations? >> thank you, congressman. we do have conversations every day about the security threats
to mexican citizens, u.s. citizens and the fact that this obviously represents a national security extreme for mexico and the u.s., so yes sir we do have those conversations. >> being that the homicide rate has skyrocketed over the past few years and we have also witnessed a series of issues come in here and beat prosecuting crimes especially those against american citizens and mexico recently we have had in the past few months i can recall about 11 deaths of american citizens on mexican soil. ..
>> so during the conversation with president trump agreed to a joint investigation involving the fbi that has been ongoing you should talk to them where they are with that. conversations and joint investigations going on also i recognize the homicide rate has been going up specifically since 2014 has gone up every year this is a problem the administration has inherited and has been very focused on it will take a great deal of effort that they are working on that i can turn it over so we could talk about the
efforts with investigations and prosecutions. >> i can speak to extraditions. >> i went to predictions about crimes perpetrated against americans in mexico i am curious if we have that effort that we are actually trying to go after folks that are harming american citizens in mexico. >> the attorney general has traveled twice to mexico in the last two months to speak with his counterparts there and to urge a focus on extraditions the government has responded in a very forceful way we have seen a large number of high value extraditions over the course of the last few months as well
as high volume fugitives that have occurred in the united states for go so yes as far as the underlying cases i don't know if they are specific. >> in the last 90 days we have at least 11 americans murdered in mexico one or two were from my district so this is a concern coming across on the mexican side when a 13 -year-old kid is shot and that i don't have any more confirmations from the state department certainly it is a concern.
the capital city of the texas panhandle so we think regionally. stomach as it was for thousands of years and the second largest canyon in the united states. >> between 1912 and 14 with the public school system of annabella on - - amarillo and then came back in god a faculty position. this can teach us so much more so imagine yourself struggling